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  APPEAL OF PROMETHEUS SOCIETY TO ALL CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICE BEARERS OF SLOVAK REPUBLIC

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Concerning: Violation of the Constitution and legal norms – denial of equal advantages to citizens because of their belief. Propositions.

  1. The status of citizens professing no religion in the Slovak republic.

The current problems and solutions. Illegitimate discrimination of citizens based on their persuasion.

The general assembly of Prometheus Society held in April 1999 was dealing with questions of implementing freedom of thought and conscience for citizens who in accordance with their legitimate right given by article 24 of Slovak Constitution, do not claim any religious belief. In this context the general assembly passed a Memorandum about the status of non-denominational citizens in Slovak republic. Simultaneously the newly elected Central Council of the Society was committed to make steps in order to reach adequate observance of international documents as well as of the Slovak republic’s Constitution in relation to citizens claiming no religious allegiance.

In this connection we take it necessary to stress, that people with no religious allegiance have their own spiritual needs and specific cultural needs similarly like followers of any other ideological platform

According to our experience we already informed about the central state authorities and some public institutions in the past , we must state that the process of transformation towards democracy in this respect has been not adequate.. The non-denominational citizens making up approximately 30 % of all population do not enjoy by far the same opportunities in cultural life as people claiming religious allegiance.. One can affirm that from this point of view the rights and freedoms of non-denominational citizens are violated. Clear evidence of it in this aspect is the fact that all propositions and demands submitted till now by Prometheus Society with the aim of protecting rights of all citizens equally regardless of their persuasion were in the past ignored. All that is at variance with the proclaimed transformation of Slovakia in a pluralist democracy.

II. CONCRETE DATA ABOUT DISCRIMINATORY APPROACH
related to non-denominational citizens are manifested in the following points based on

As we know there are no reliable statistic data about numbers. According to the last census in 1991,which disclosed just very distorted results due to the that-time “anti-secular” atmosphere in the society-as many as 28 % of population did not claim religious allegiance. The same census at which citizens were asked to disclose their religious allegiance was a violation of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Jan.28,1981) articles 1. and art 3.(2)b. art 6, art 7. art 8a aet 9b) See also Declaration of European Parliament about fundamental rights and freedoms (April 12,1989) art 11 –2

These results of the 1991 census in the former Czechoslovak Federative Republic are repeatedly misused
1.by declaring Slovak republic to be a „Christian State“
2 by denying the same advantages to non-denominational citizens as have been granted to religious groups and organisations (financing the church school system, educating priests and paying salaries to them, regular State subsidies to churches, contributions to build up new buildings serving the purposes of churches, tax exemptions, pastoral services in army and prisons, one-sided propagating religion in public mass media, etc.)

  1. For non-denominational citizens there is no central body in the ministry of culture committed with managing mutual relation of State and non-denominational citizens.
  2. Non-denominational citizens are denied access to mass-media , there is no special editorial board for mass media (In TV and Radio) dealing with special topics for them

Legislative provisions

  1. Non-denominational citizens do not have a single Institution for qualifying activists serving this special philosophic life stance, their culture, such as officiants for civil ceremonies, counsellors for practical humanitarian activities, social workers, and researchers.
  2. In prisons and in the army secular counsellors were not approved.
  3. At preparing new legal bills concerning the State policy in relation to citizens with varied philosophy of life no representatives of people professing no religion are consulted.

Financial support

  1. Non-denominational citizens contribute by their taxes approximately 30 –40 % in the State budget., but no adequate part is spent to their benefit and needs. Especially:
  2. they do not receive any REGULAR State subsidy for the necessary preservation and further development of their own specific identity.

III. THE AFORESAID FACTS CONTRADICT THE CONSTITUTION OF SR AND THE FOLLOWING RULES OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEGAL DOCUMENTS.

Besides the basic documents of global force such as a) The Atlantic Charter (14.8.1941) b ) Declaration of UN (1.1.1942) The Charter of UN (26.6.1945), which are for the sake of conciseness here omitted -

IT CONCERNS ESPECIALLY THE FOLLOWING LEGAL DOCUMENTS:

  1. Article 1.: Slovak republic is a sovereign, democratic, law-abiding state. It is not linked to any ideology , nor religion.
  2. Article 11. :International treaties about human rights and fundamental freedoms, which were ratified by Slovak republic and were published in a legal way bear a priority over its (national) laws , if they guarantee a wider scope of constitutional rights and freedoms.
  3. Article 12 (2) Fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed on the territory of Slovak republic to everyone regardless of gender, race, colour of complexion. language, creed and religion, political or other persuasion national or ethnic allegiance., possession, family, or other standing. Nobody can be for such reasons damaged, granted advantages, or suffer any disadvantages.
  4. Article 24 (1) Freedom of thought, conscience, religious creed and belief are guaranteed.. This right includes the right to change religious creed or belief Everybody has the right to be without religious allegiance. Everybody has the right to manifest his/her persuasion in public.

( Comment the word “belief” in French originals of international documents reads “CONVICTION”- which means ANY belief, religious or NON-Religious . All of the Slovak text have the (English ) notion BELIEF = ( French) “ CONVICTION” wrongly translated as (Slovak), “VIERA” which means creed (i.e. “religious creed))

COMMENTS: Wrong translations of notion s „BELIEF“ and others in Slovak texts see comments at the end) –

(In the original application full quotations of enumerated articles have been used. In the following English translation only the particular articles and paragraphs are enumerated with omission of their texts , because this is to everyone accessible and easy to find)

          Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10.12.1948)

  1. Article 18.
  2. Article 19.
  1. Article 19 paragr 1
  2. Article 19, paragr.2
  1. Article 1 (3)
  2. Article 2 (1)

(European)Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms( and Protocols to this document- ) (4.11.1950)

  1. Article 9 (1)
  2. Article 10 (a)
  3. Article 14

           Article 3 (2)
           Article 4,

  1. Article 5 (1)
  2. Article 6 (1)
  3. Article 11. (1)
  4. Article 11 (2)
  5. Article 23
  6. Article 26.

COMMENTS ON NOT ADMISSIBLE INACCURATE TRANSLATION INTO SLOVAK LANGUAGE FROM ENGLISH, concerning words „Belief“ Worship“ and others.. This can lead to misinterpretations , because the word „belief“ was translated in Slovak as „VIERA“, which means „RELIGIOUS CREED“ in Slovak.

As evidence the French wording of these Intentional documents can be quoted : FRENCH EQUIVALENT for English word „belief“ in all these documents is „CONVICTION“ ( meaning any belief including NON-RELIGIOU belief)

IV. OUR DEMANDS AND PROPOSITIONS TO SOLVE THE SITUATION:

In order to create preconditions for enabling freedom of thought, conscience, religious creed and non religious humanist belief equally for religious believers and citizens not affiliated to religion we demand

  1. Establishing an adequate body in Ministry of culture of SR committed to secure adequate fulfilment of specific cultural needs of the whole community of citizens not affiliated to religion and for aiding activities based on secular humanism ( Similarly like it is done by the existing Department for churches at the Ministry in relation to the sphere of religious and church matters)
  2. In the army of SR and the relevant parts of Ministry of interior and Justice ministry of SR to institutionalise the position of secular councillors acting on the base of secular humanism in this sphere

( Similarly like in some armies of NATO, e.g. in Belgian and the Dutch ones)

  1. In the framework of some University to include in curricula subject matters dealing with problems of secular humanism (essential features, function, aims, historical development, its importance at present and future.) Similarly as it works in other countries e. g. University of Humanist Studies in Utrecht, Westminster College of Oxford, Humanist Institute of New York , and others It is desirable also to take into account the issues of civil ceremonies.
  2. In issues of implementing freedom of thought, conscience, religious creed and humanistic conviction, at which qualified consultants are called for participating, there is a need to include in the group of consultants representatives of citizens with no religious affiliation.. Propmetheus Society could play a role of mediator in these issues.
  1. Activities aimed at fulfilling needs of both citizens claiming religion as well as those claiming no religious philosophy of life, wants adequate financing. We demand that the total amount allotted to these purposes from the State budget be earmarked in its two thirds to fulfilling needs of citizens with religious persuasion and approximately in one third be earmarked to fulfilment of needs of citizens claiming no religious philosophy of life.

V. CONCLUSION

Slovak republic ratified or accepted as a successor of Czechoslovak Federative Republic all of above mentioned international documents in force . Therefore Prometheus Society comes with the initiative aiming at a change in the current status of citizens claiming no religious affiliation. and to grant equal rights to them as the rest of population of the SR are entitled to.. The Prometheus Society is confident that we will not have to address the Council of Europe with a petition ( in accordance to Declaration of the European Parliament about the human rights and fundamental freedoms dated on April 12 1989m article 23 ) , or even the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg ( in accordance to European Convention about Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocol No 11 ) – and therewith needlessly to stir up the media in the whole Europe about this problem of unequal status of citizens as concerns the protection of their rights and freedoms, not only as concerns our members , but which applies to a complete one third of total population of Slovak republic.

We are kindly asking your to reply on the above written official letter in the time decreed by law

Central Council of Prometheus Society
chairman   Ing. PhDr.Jaroslav Èelko, Dr Sc
        professor emeritus

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